Synopsis of TV Show
The 60’s had Batman, the 70’s had The Incredible Hulk, and the 80’s had The Greatest American Hero, but heroes in tights were tough to come by on 90’s prime time television. Thankfully, there was M.A.N.T.I.S., an action-packed show featuring a modern day superhero complete with suit and secret identity. And as a nod to the socially-conscious 90’s, this superhero also happened to be African-American. This distinction, along with the show’s blend of sci-fi and thrills, helped make it one of the more distinguished recent entries in the live-action superhero hall of fame.
The hour-long M.A.N.T.I.S. adventures focused on Dr. Miles Hawkins, a gifted physician who suffered a terrible setback when he was shot and paralyzed from the waist down during a riot. The plucky doctor triumphed over this disability by creating a mechanical exoskeleton that allowed him to walk once more. The suit also gave him superhuman levels of strength and agility, newfound abilities that Hawkins used to fight crime. To keep his private life safe, the doc assumed a secret identity, M.A.N.T.I.S., which was an acronym for the suit itself: Mechanically Augmented Neuro-Transmitter Interactive System.
The M.A.N.T.I.S. suit did most of the heavy work, but even superheroes need a few good buddies to turn to in a pinch. Dr. Hawkins had John Stonebrake, his former college roommate and current scientific partner, and Taylor Savidge, a young bike messenger who became Hawkins' assistant. Other characters included Lt. Leora Maxwell, a lovely but tough officer on the Port Columbia Police Department, and Lynette, Hawkins' faithful housekeeper. On the side of evil, our man M.A.N.T.I.S. faced a formidable and resourceful archenemy in Solomon Box.
Each episode of M.A.N.T.I.S. combined action and sci-fi elements to create a powerhouse show overflowing with high-tech thrills. With a wide-open world of stories to tell, the show could have Hawkins squaring off against a renegade naval captain who terrorized Port Columbia with his band of pirates one week, then have him tangling with an evil magician and his mind-control machine the next. All this action was dished out in a colorful, comic book style that seemed especially appropriate when one considered the resumes of the show’s creators: Darkman director Sam Raimi and Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm.
M.A.N.T.I.S. only lasted one season, but it managed to acquire a cult following before the end of its run. The mech-suited crimefighter also gained new fans through reruns on cable’s Sci-Fi Channel. Today, M.A.N.T.I.S. is remembered fondly by sci-fi fans for providing plenty of cool action and also blazing a new, more racially-inclusive path for the television superhero genre.
Release History of Prime Time Show8/26/94 - 3/3/95 Fox
TV Sub Categoriessci-fi/fantasy
TV CastDr. Miles Hawkins Carl Lumbly
John Stonebrake Roger Rees
Lt. Leora Maxwell Galyn Gorg
Taylor Savage Christopher Gartin
Lynette Lorena Gale
Capt. Ken Hetrick Gary Graham
Chief Grant Blu Mankuma
Det. Paul Warren Jerry Wasserman